Tisha b’av, an annual day of fasting and mourning during the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av (for 2011, that day on the Gregorian calendar is August 9), commemorates the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem. For Sephardim, the day has an additional significance, since it coincides with the accepted date of the 1492 expulsion edict that forced Spanish Jews and others from what had been their homeland for hundreds of years.
The Milken Archive’s recording, Chants and Elegies for Tisha b’av, showcases the distinctive liturgical musical tradition cultivated by Sephardim who settled in western Europe after their expulsion from the Iberian Peninsula. This tradition formed the basis of the first Jewish music to be performed in the United States and was maintained and developed by the continuous flow of cantors from western Europe.
These chants and elegies utilize the unique western Sephardi cantillation pattern reserved for the Book of Lamentations and therefore pay homage to both the history of the temples’ destructions and the forced deportation of the Sephardic Jews from their homeland.
Chants and Elegies for Tisha b’av will form an integral part of the Milken Archive’s Volume 01: Jewish Voices in the New World. The full volume will not be out until later this year, but you can listen to (and purchase) a preview of the recordings now, including Chants and Elegies for Tisha b'av. Featured performers include Cantor Ira Rohde and male choir Schola Hebraeica. Milken Archive Artistic Director Neil Levin serves as conductor.
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